Swinging in Style at the Fogg

The European Club’s Annual Cocktail Party at the Fogg Art Museum in Harvard Square is traditionally one of the highlights of the HBS social calendar. This year’s event, held on Friday September 21, was eagerly awaited as the first major social since the events of September 11. Hundreds of members of the Classes of 2002 and 2003 turned out to enjoy each other’s company over fine food and drinks, dance to live swing music, and revel in the stunningly beautiful environment.

The venue was the Fogg Museum’s large indoor Italian Renaissance courtyard, modeled after a sixteenth-century fa‡ade in Montepulciano, Italy. In keeping with the sophisticated space, partygoers rose to the challenge of a “Cocktail/Roaring ’20s” dress code with a dazzling array of interpretations. Keen students of Marketing noted a range of sartorial positionings from classically elegant smoking jackets and ball gowns, much favored by the EC contingent, to rip-roaring risqu‚ numbers showcased by first-years intent on building brand equity as ultimate party animals.

The party atmosphere really came alive as the band struck up with an infectious series of up-tempo swing numbers. The band-the six-piece White Heat Swing Orchestra, as featured on the soundtrack to the movie Dick Tracy-soon had the guests swinging and swaying on the dance floor. A few bars of the lead singer’s brassy vocals was all it took to transport us back to a pre-war era of gaslights, nylons, and innocence soon to be lost. In a special treat for this year’s guests, the European Club invited professional dance instructor Ken Kreshtool to demonstrate what dancing swing is really about. Inspired by Kreshtool’s astonishing moves, classmates dashed to drop their cocktails, grab their partners and step up for a twirl.

Quieter pursuits abounded for the less energetic. Guests burned out by their exertions on the dance floor retired to dine on delicacies like endive leaf with smoked salmon mousse, ratatouille with pita chips, and deliciously crunchy crudit‚s. The more adventurous wandered at will around the sumptuous galleries to inspect one of the finest collections of art in New England, featuring masterpieces from masters of the early Italian Renaissance, British pre-Raphaelites, and the schools of nineteenth-century France. Partygoers who made it up to the second floor appreciated the Wertheim Collection, one of America’s finest exhibitions of impressionist and post-impressionist art.

All too soon the midnight bell tolled to draw the evening’s events to a close. After the pain and confusion of the past two weeks, it was reassuring to see the HBS community hasn’t forgotten how to celebrate the vibrant spirit that binds us together.

Dance instructor Ken Kreshtool can be reached on the web at gottadance.org The White Heat Swing Orchestra is promoted by Red Drum Music of Brookline, MA.